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Freezer Paper Stencil 


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Freezer Paper Stencil 

Written By: Leah Kramer 


Image (1) 

printout of black and white image. 

Freezer paper (1) 

Cutting mat (1) 

Craft knifed) 

Fabric item (1) 

blank T-shirt or other fabric item. 

Iron (1) 

Fabric paint (1) 

fabric paint or silk-screening ink for fabric. 

Sponge paintbrush (1) 


If you were a teenager in the 90s like I was, you'll remember being a sentient being in a 
world without the Galactic Information Superhighweb, or internet as we now know it. Before 
this age of enlightenment, we suffered many great hardships. I vividly recall cobbling 
together my own T-shirts proclaiming my favorite bands, using a masking-tape-and-fabric- 
paint technique with all too shoddy results. Today it takes 5 minutes to Google a world of 

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Freezer Paper Stencil 

crafty people who share amazing techniques, allowing you to create just about any T-shirt 
image you'd like. 

My favorite is freezer paper stenciling, which allows you to iron your design onto the T, 
securing the stencil in place and ensuring that paint won't easily seep under it. 

Step 1 — Turn photos into stencils. 





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• Increase the contrast. High contrast works best. Ideally your photo should be high-contrast 
to begin with. This means lots of very light areas and lots of very dark areas. If not, you 
can use your graphics program to bump the contrast way up. In Photoshop, choose the 
menu Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and then move the Contrast slider to 
the right. 

• Clear the clutter. Try using the "lasso tool" to cut out the background of the photo so that 
the main object in it is the only thing in the photo. 

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Freezer Paper Stencil 

Step 2 — Print out the image. 

• Print out a black and white image 
without too many tiny details in it. 
You can easily make a black and 
white image out of a photograph 
using any graphics program. 
Basically, you want to have the 
software convert the photo to be 
just 2 colors: black and white. 

• To do this with Photoshop, load up 
the image and click the menu 
option Image > Mode > Indexed 
Color, then set the dialog box 
settings like so, and click OK: 

• Palette: Local (Adaptive); Colors: 
2; Forced: Black and White; 
Transparency: unchecked; Dither: 

• To do this in Microsoft Paint, save 
the image as a Monochrome 
Bitmap. Just about every graphics 
program should have a way to do 
this; it's just a matter of poking 
around in the menus a bit to find it. 

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Freezer Paper Stencil 

Step 3 — Cut the freezer paper. 

• Freezer paper is white opaque 
paper that is waxy on only one 
side, as opposed to wax paper 
(never use wax paper for this 
project!), which is waxed on both 
sides. You can find freezer paper in 
supermarkets next to the aluminum 
foil and plastic wrap. 

• Cut a piece of freezer paper the 
same size as your printout. Place 
the freezer paper onto your cutting 
mat, waxy side down. Then place 
the printout face up on top of the 
freezer paper. Use a couple of 
pieces of tape to secure the 
printout to the freezer paper. 

Step 4 — Cut out the black space. 

• Using the printout as your guide, use the X-Acto to cut out all the black space in the 
image, cutting through both the printout and the freezer paper at the same time. Try to 
leave the pieces of paper intact even though you are slicing sections into them. If there are 
a few areas of the printed image that are just too detailed to cut out precisely, you can 
fudge it and use your judgment to cut the area out in a more simple way. 

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Freezer Paper Stencil 

Step 5 — Iron the paper onto the shirt. 

• Throw out the printout when you're 
done with the cutting. Now you 
have a piece of freezer paper with 
all of the segments of your image 
sliced into it. Lay this onto your T- 
shirt waxy side down and iron it 
down lightly. The freezer paper will 
adhere to the T-shirt. 

• Carefully peel out the sliced-up 
segments that correspond to the 
black part of the image. Then give 
the remaining freezer paper 
another once-over with the iron to 
make sure it is nicely adhered to 
the fabric. 

Step 6 — Dab on the paint. 

• Using a sponge brush (some are made for stenciling), dab fabric paint all over the stencil, 
making sure to apply a nice opaque coat. Dabbing the paint with a sponge brush works 
better than a bristle paintbrush, which can cause paint to seep under the stencil. 

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Freezer Paper Stencil 

Step 7 — Wait for the paint to dry, and then peel off the stencil. 

• The instructions for the fabric paint may indicate that you need to "heat set" it with an iron. 
If so, follow those instructions. Now you've got a technique for a custom-stenciled shirt, 
spiffed up with whatever your heart desires. 

• Resources: Stencil Revolution : A community of die-hard stencilers who share their work, 
their techniques, and their image files. 

This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 02 . pages 105-107. 

This document was last generated on 2012-11-03 12:45:21 AM. 

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